Val was very much a part of Oak Park, and countless people grew up through the decades knowing it was Val who had the music not only around her but in her.
She never was much into commercializing music like corporate stores that are now out of business. She stayed close to what she knew best, and if you needed to know a song's title and only knew a few words of it, she spent the time figuring out what it was.
When I was asked to videotape a military funeral for the man who owned La Majada, who lost his son, I refused payment because I'm a veteran and it was my honor. But I needed two songs for the tape that the family requested be added, and I turned to Val to find them.
When Val found out why I wanted the songs, she expressed her sorrow for a fellow member of the community — and there was no charge. Some might say that made her a lousy business person; I say it made her a human being and a member who grieved for another's loss.
The community watched as she endured many changes thrown her way, never taking a dive. She refused to be knocked down and nothing stopped her. Through it all she never complained.
When her Camaro was in front of the shop, you knew you had the best waiting inside. She could talk about any subject, including the time she was on WTTW's Check, Please! She never needed to prove what she had accomplished and the many things she did in her life.
Now little pieces of memories are left behind for everyone who met Val. We share the loss of a real member of our community, and we reflect on what she really cared about. It certainly wasn't about money. To me, it was community and her love for music and sharing that love with every person she met.
You won't find another Val; she was as unique as a snowflake.
Answer Book 2018
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